Archbishop Vigneron asks Detroit's faithful to remember Pope Benedict XVI as a disciple with faith founded in reason
DETROIT — In the days since his passing Dec. 31, Pope Benedict XVI has been remembered as a great scholar, a holy priest and devoted steward of the Catholic Church who served as the successor of Peter.
But Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron wanted to remember Pope Benedict XVI in another way during a Mass of Suffrage for the repose of Pope Benedict’s soul Jan. 14 at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament.
Archbishop Vigneron remembered that Joseph Ratzinger — Pope Benedict XVI — was a disciple of Jesus Christ.
“The profile that I have of Pope Benedict as I come into the cathedral today and lead in the holy sacrifice is a profile not so much as a priest, a theologian or a hierarch, but the dimension of his life as a disciple, alongside other disciples,” Archbishop Vigneron, who was appointed by Pope Benedict as archbishop of Detroit in 2009, said in his homily. “And I think he would appreciate that, given his great love for St. Augustine, who famously said, ‘What I am for you, causes me concern. But what I am with you, a disciple of Christ, gives me consolation.’”
Archbishop Vigneron reflected on the Scripture readings of the Mass, particularly the Psalm response, “I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living,” noting how Pope Benedict had a profound faith in Jesus Christ the Savior, a personal faith that he expressed with his last words, “Lord, I love you.”
“This faith, this realistic, profoundly confident faith in Jesus Christ, was the faith of Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict,” Archbishop Vigneron said. “And we present at this Mass, along with the Body of Christ, this confession of faith. We ask the Lord to be merciful to him. That in his confession, his profession and belief in the Resurrection, that his profession will not be in vain. That Pope Benedict might be purged of whatever might have remained a wound or weakness in his faith as he passed out of this world.”
The Mass featured hymns in Latin and German — a nod to Joseph Ratzinger’s heritage — and a Collect and Postcommunion that entrusted the soul of Pope Benedict to God.
Archbishop Vigneron described the Mass as a “solemn duty,” a chance for the faithful not only to give thanks for the service Pope Benedict rendered to the Church, but also the task of asking God to forgive the deceased pontiff of any trespasses and to entrust his soul to the care of the Lord.
“We have are gathered to commend Pope Benedict to the loving embrace of our Father,” Archbishop Vigneron said. “We are here to continue to pray him home, especially to do that in the offering of the sacrifice of the Holy Eucharist — to pray Pope Benedict home by offering, along with the Body and Blood of Christ, his life, all his good works and a lifetime of service.”
Just as Archbishop Vigneron celebrated the Eucharist, bonding the faithful’s lives to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the archbishop said this particular Mass bonded the life and death of Pope Benedict to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, to whom the former pontiff professed life-affirming faith.
“At the heart of Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI, was a discipleship of hope,” Archbishop Vigneron said, “this trust that he was owned by Jesus Christ, given to Jesus as a gift from the Father, not one to be lost, but raised by Jesus on the last day, as we heard Jesus predict so eloquently in the Gospel. That was the trust that motived all the life of Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict. And we present, along with the Body of Christ in the Eucharistic sacrifice today, we entrust Pope Benedict himself.”
Archbishop Vigneron ended his homily with a passage from Pope Benedict XVI’s personal testimony of faith.
“’Pope Benedict wrote, ‘Finally, I humbly ask, pray of me, that the Lord, despite all my sins and insufficiencies, welcome me into eternal rest,’” Archbishop Vigneron said.
“Let us then go forward,” Archbishop Vigneron added, “to keep that in mind, to make it our joyful duty to respond to the request of our Holy Father, who served us so generously. In our own response, devoutly pray for his eternal rest.”
Archdiocese of Detroit